Google is making a $2.6 billion bet on the cloud

Google and its parent company Alphabet are making a multi-billion bet on the cloud.

Google said Thursday that it has agreed to acquire Looker, a business intelligence platform, for $2.6 billion in cash to bolster its cloud computing division by providing customers with more powerful data analytics.

“Google Cloud is being used by many of the leading organizations in the world for analytics and decision-making,” Thomas Kurian, CEO of Google Cloud, said in a statement Thursday. “The combination of Google Cloud and Looker will enable customers to harness data in new ways to drive their digital transformation.”

It’s Google’s biggest acquisition since Kurian, a former Oracle executive, was hired late last year to oversee the Google Cloud unit. Kurian previously said Google Cloud would be “competing much more aggressively” under his leadership as it vies for a bigger piece of the fast-growing cloud computing market.

At the moment, Amazon and Microsoft are generally seen as the two leaders in the market, with the success of Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Azure, respectively. AWS brought in more than $25 billion in revenue in 2018. Alphabet does not break out cloud revenue.

Looker was founded in 2012 with the goal of building a platform “that easily integrates all of a business’s data and then allows it to be melded to specific work processes in a way where users can do more with it and solve higher-value problems,” according to a blog post from the company’s CEO.

The company received funding from a number of prominent investors, including Kleiner Perkins, Goldman Sachs and CapitalG, a venture capital arm of Google’s parent company.

The Looker acquisition is expected to be completed later this year and may be subject to regulatory approvals.

The deal comes against the backdrop of mounting antitrust scrutiny of Google and other tech giants, which is expected to give these companies and startups more pause in entering into big ticket acquisitions. While Google has dominant positions in search and digital advertising, it is still playing catchup in the cloud.

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